Healthy Businesses Stay In Touch

Regardless of whether or not the economy is strong or weak, a bird in the hand has always been worth two in the bush. This proverb rings true especially for customer retention. You'll save money in the end if you create a plan to keep customers coming back. A loyal customer's spending accelerates over time and obtaining new customers is costly. In fact, it can cost between six and 30 times more to get a new customer than it does to keep the ones you have.

Think of customer service as an act of providing helpful benefits and privileges to your clients. There are two types of service: that which customers expect (communication via toll-free phone, fax, e-mail and web site) and that which adds value (free delivery, upgraded warranties, preferential treatment and expedited response time). How well a business retains its customer base depends upon its ability to stay connected, listen to the customer's needs and then find a way to solve their problems.

Stellar service creates additional value for your brand and can be the key differentiator for companies that offer similar products. Chuck & Eddie's Used Auto Parts in Plantsville, Conn. ( makes sure its customers know they are at the top of its priority list. To that effort, the business added a new call center to attend to them in a timely and courteous manner. Lee Ann Arcangelo, Chuck & Eddie's Used Auto Parts, explained that with burgeoning business, thanks to e-commerce from the web site as well as an eBay store, staff members faced the challenge of handling increased phone calls while still giving walk-in customers attention. The call center, with a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system, was the solution to the problem.

"Without our customers we wouldn't have a business," explained Arcangelo. "We need to keep them happy."

Make sure your customers know you really care about them. Many times when asked why customers are loyal to a particular company, they respond that they felt the company cared about them.

During summer months and on one of the hottest days of the year, Steve Spalding, owner, Bill's Auto Parts & Gear Service in Spokane, Wash. (, and a staff member personally deliver ice cream treats to his body shop and mechanic customers. It usually takes all day to hit the 50-plus stops. Spalding takes precautions to think of those who are diabetic. He brings along Skinny Cow brand treats as well as the regular assortment of goodies.

It continues during the holidays. Spalding hand-delivers roughly 120 bottles of wine, specially labeled with the Bill's Auto Parts & Gear Service logo, to his customers and their families.

Spalding explained, "It gives us an opportunity to thank the people for their business throughout the year."

Meeting his customer's business needs helps, too. Spalding directly ties his staff's combined work experience of more than 80 years to customer retention.

Spalding explained, "We're able to give the service, because we have the knowledge and the know-how."

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